Thursday, September 15, 2011

Big Ten Review and Preview

The Big Ten Review and Preview.
If you didn’t see the preview last week, well, talk to the Editor. However, published or not, here we are in Week 3. Jerry Kill had a stroke, but will bounce back. Michigan gave its fans a heart attack and then bounced back against Notre Dame.

I’m torn between two potentially good games. Ohio State at Miami in the Jailhouse Bowl or Arizona State and Illinois in the “Are you sure this isn’t a video game?” Bowl. Both are intriguing and both worthy of the Game of the Week.

First though, let’s take stock of where we are.

The Review:
Alabama beat Penn State as we predicted. Big Blue got a win, without their defense. Iowa got bit by its in-state rival.

Minnesota got upset by New Mexico State and Purdue found a way to lose to Rice as predicted. Indiana nearly got a win, but then collapsed.

Ohio State struggled early against Toledo. Wisconsin, Nebraska, Michigan State, Illinois and Northwestern all rolled.

My record: 2-1.

Week 2 Preview:
#22 Arizona State (2-0) at Illinois (2-0).
I picked this game, because we will find out just how good Illinois is this week. There are those around the Illini program that believe they should be a dark horse candidate for Indianapolis. Here is your showcase game, Ron Zook.

If you missed the Arizona State/Missouri tilt last Friday, you missed out on how good the Sun Devil offense can be. Six foot eight QB Brock Osweiler threw for 353 yards, enroute to a thrilling 37-30 overtime win against the Tigers. SR WR Aaron Pflugrad caught 8 balls for 180 yards and two touchdowns. The Sun Devils can score in a hurry, but aren’t always consistent.

The Sun Devil defense is less impressive. They gave up over 500 yards of total offense to a Mizzou team that is okay- not great. DL Junior Onyeali returns after being named the PAC-10 Frosh of the year last year. JR LB Vontaze Burfict, who the Sporting News called the meanest man in football, leads the defense.

The Illini have played two warm up games to date- Arkansas State and South Dakota State. Sophomore QB Nathan Scheelhaase has passed for 369 yards and rushed for 117 yards so far in 2011. SR WR A.J. Jenkins leads the B1G in catches and yards per game. Additionally, the Illini lead the Big Ten in rushing yards at 283 ypg.

I’m told Illinois has a defense, but the stats against those two teams are essentially meaningless. What is certain is that the secondary is going to get a severe test and the DL is going to need to get some pressure.

Of Note: Illinois has eight total home games this season for the first time in the Memorial Stadium era and first time since 1903, when the Illini played nine home games.*

The Line: Pick ‘em.

The Pick: In the Ron Zook era, the Illini are 3-18 against ranked teams, with all three wins coming in the 2007 Rose Bowl season - No. 21 Penn State, No. 5 Wisconsin and No. 1 Ohio State.*

Which is another way of saying that I think Ron Zook is an awful coach. Illinois has played no one, ASU outlasted Mizzou. The game is in Champaign; however, Memorial Stadium doesn’t exactly strike fear in the hearts of men.

I do think this will be a good game, if you like offense. Scheelhaase is a good QB and so is Osweiler. I think it goes into overtime and Zook screws up the two point conversion.

Arizona State 36
Illinois 34.

*- Information courtesy of the Illinois Sports Information Office.

Quick slants:
Eastern Michigan (2-0) at Michigan (2-0). You would think the Wolverines would be ripe for a let down, but I doubt it. Too much talent.

Penn State (1-1) at Temple (2-0). Possible hangover for the Lions and a decent Temple team means they should be on upset alert.

Pittsburgh (2-0) at Iowa (1-1). Hawks cannot stop the spread option. As an aside, they might try not playing 3 linebackers against that offense, but I digress. Intriguing game with the nation’s leading rusher, but its in Iowa City. Hawks get the win, barely.

Southeast Missouri State (0-1) at Purdue (1-1). Great scheduling.

South Carolina State (1-1) at Indiana (0-2). Better scheduling.

#15 Michigan State (2-0) at Notre Dame (0-2). Will the Golden Domers start 0 and 3? A big road win for the Spartans would label them legitimate contenders for whatever division they are in.

Miami (OH) (0-1) at Minnesota (0-2)
Which team will show up? The one that almost beat USC or the one that got beat by NMSU? Tell me that and I’ll tell you who wins.

Washington (2-0) at #11 Nebraska (2-0) Split their meetings a year ago. However, this game is in Lincoln. Black Shirts take control.

Northwestern (2-0) at Army (0-2)
New school spread versus old school option. Wildcats get the win, but it’ll be a struggle.

#7 Wisconsin (2-0) at Northern Illinois (1-1). Badgers get a better test than they did against the Beavers. Run game too much for Huskies.

#17 Ohio State (2-0) at Miami(FL) (0-1). Lets be honest, everyone is rooting for the referees in this game. Ohio State will be conservative, Jacoby Harris will make mistakes. It’s in Miami. I’ll say Buckeyes.

Some big tests for Conference teams this week. Enjoy it!

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